How I Became a Christian

This is the story of how I became a Christian.

But first, it’s important to look at my parents’ faith background.

My mom was raised Catholic and always had some issues with it. After she became an adult, she looked for another Christian church. She actually ran into a really weird, disillusioning church sect in the process. Nothing ever felt right, and she eventually stopped looking. But she was always a Christian.

My dad has really always been a man of God, too. He’s just never been that into actually going to church.

Since my mom didn’t like being raised in a faith she didn’t agree with, she and my father decided to not baptize me. They wanted me to be able to choose my faith when I was ready.

But the only preschools in our small Iowa city were at churches, so my parents decided to send me to a Lutheran preschool.

And I loved it.

I wanted to start going to Sunday school, too. So my parents obliged, and tried out the services themselves. It still didn’t feel like the right church for them, but they took me to Sunday school every Sunday for years. I also did vacation Bible school.

I really loved church, and I really loved Jesus!

When I was seven, my family moved to a new neighborhood. I already knew a girl, Lauren, in the neighborhood from school. She introduced me to her friend, Rachel, who lived a couple houses down.

Rachel’s family went to a small reformed church not too far away. One night, they invited us to their Wednesday night service. Lauren and I tagged along with Rachel’s family and we found out we really liked this new church!

So we both brought our moms to check it out, and the moms began to love the church too.

My mom started helping to teach Sunday school – even before she officially joined the church.

Since Lauren and her mom were never baptized, either, we were glad to have the opportunity at this new church.

During an early 8 AM service in 2002, Lauren, her mom, me and my little brother, Mickey, were baptized. It was so cool because people we didn’t even know went to the church were at that service that day. My beloved Librarian from school was there, along with my 1st grade teacher. It was so special that they were witness to our baptism.

My parents officially joined the church around that same time, and my mom became deeply involved with many other church functions. When she joined, she reaffirmed her faith.

She finally felt at home!

And I don’t think her faith has ever been stronger.

It was always my desire and my choice to follow Christ. I always felt called, and I think that’s pretty cool. And since I’m the editor of Devotional Diva now, I think it’s so awesome that I can help spread God’s glory.

I love the fact that I chose to be baptized myself and that I remember it. It was such an amazing experience.

My family (and Lauren and Rachel’s families) still attend that special church. We’re so blessed to have a church that really feels like home!  But now, I’m doing my own thing. My husband and I haven’t found a church like that in California yet, but that’s okay.

How I became a Christian may not be very typical, but I really appreciate that I was always able to follow what I have always known to be right.

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photo credit: -mrsraggle- via photopin cc

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When Christians Are Hurt: Share Your Story!

I have been hurt. You have been hurt. We’ve all been hurt. But how do you respond to hurt in a Christian way?

If you identify as a Christian, you believe in the New Testament and the teachings of Jesus. One of the verses I always associate with Jesus is this one:

Matthew 5:38-40 
“You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also.  If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too.”
 

I love this scripture, and try to live by it. But until recently, just focusing on this one section gave me a rather skewed image of Jesus.

During my Lent studies of Jesus, this scripture really changed that image:

Matthew 21: 12-13
 “Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out all the people buying and selling animals for sacrifice. He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves. He said to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves!”

Now, Jesus had very good reason to be turning over tables at the Temple – the sellers’ and money changers’ tables were blocking Gentiles from being able to pray.

But all too often before I delved into that scripture, I considered Jesus to be mostly meek and humble. While those characteristics are true of Jesus, He was also very strong. He stood up for what was right and justly. The verses from Matthew 21 are proof of that.

And since I receive all of my power from Jesus, that means I can be strong, too. And so can you.

Just because we are Christians, it does not mean we can’t stand up for ourselves, others, and what is right. There are good and bad ways to do it, yes, but it is possible.

If you have been hurt, you can share your story.

The truth is, I can’t create all the content for Devotional Diva. Nor do I want to! Devotional Diva should be about many women sharing their stories.

You can stand up for yourself, heal yourself from this hurt and pain, and help others in the process.

One of the reasons I fell in love with writing was the ability to create change through it. You can spread the word in a healthy and respectful way at Devotional Diva.

By sharing your story, you are helping others with the same experiences. They can relate to you. In my opinion, life is all about relationships and relating to others.

Devotional Diva will help you share your story and stand up for yourself. And as editor, I will stand up for you and your story.

If you would like to “become a diva”  (guest contributor), please see the Become a Diva page for more information and the submission form.

You may submit written articles, or even something of a more visual nature.

The requirements for a written story are: 500-700 words in length, with a 3-4 sentence bio and a current picture. For all other types of submissions, please contact me for more information.

Become a Diva today!

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Why I Chose to Marry Young

 

Why I chose to marry young

I chose to marry young — at 19, to be exact.

As some of you may know, I am still pretty young – 22, to be exact.

There’s that Taylor Swift song “22,” but I don’t relate to it at all because I’m married and have been for 2 and a half years. I don’t know if you’ve heard that song, but here are a couple quick quotes:

Everything will be alright
If we just keep dancing like we’re 22

 

And

 

It feels like one of those nights
We won’t be sleeping

Nope, does not describe my life at 22 at all.

I do not dance anywhere, except I did dance at my wedding.

And YES, I will be sleeping because I have things to do tomorrow! Every day I have things to do!

I’m not complaing in any way. I love my life! I just think it’s comical how different my life is from this Taylor Swift song and actually, most of my peers’ lives.

When I wrote about How God Changed the Course of My life Completely, I told you about how supportive my now-husband Brandon was (and still is) and how we met.

But what I didn’t tell you then was how big of a role following my heart played.

Brandon and I have a fairy tale love story – with some major kinks thrown in.

We had a lot of opposition going up against us the whole time we were dating.

For one, I was in a horrible place mentally and physically in the beginning. I talked about this in that post I mentioned, but it really was a struggle. My mom knew that Brandon was the one for me because of how he stuck by me through it all.

I mean, I was in the mental health unit at the hospital (more than once) and he stayed with me. He supported me. He showed me love. I know that I was not able to show him the same kind of love at that time, just because I was going through so much.

And it was a shock to everyone around us when we started dating because Brandon is 7 and a half years older than me.

But we got through all that stuff. I got better. Things were going great, and we were happy.

Then Brandon decided to join the Navy.

At first, we didn’t even consider getting married before his boot camp. But as we went through his recruitment process, marriage actually seemed like a pretty good idea.

I knew I loved Brandon and wanted to be with him forever. He said he always knew that I was “the one.”

It soon became clear that we did want to get married before Brandon would leave for basic training.

But I was so nervous about what my parents would say.

I felt like they would disapprove, because I was only 19 after all. Now-a-days, that is young.

It wasn’t like getting married so young was in their (or my) plans for my future.

I worked up the courage to talk to my mom about it first, and she eased my dad into the idea. They were accepting, more than I thought they would be. They supported us.

Brandon formally asked my dad for my hand in marriage in June, and a few days later he proposed to me. In November, we said our vows at my childhood church.

My mom said she felt the presence of Jesus so strongly during the ceremony.

We’ve been married 2 and a half years now, and things are working out for us. We’re happy. I see how God had these plans for me, and there’s no doubt in my mind that I was always supposed to be with Brandon.

I followed my heart and ended up with a great man. But getting married at a young age is not for everyone. Honestly, everyone’s situation will be different. When you find your mate is up to God.

I still get surprised reactions when people find out I’m 22 and married, let alone that I have been married for almost 3 years now. That’s okay, but I wish there wasn’t so much judgment.

It’s not just people who marry young – I know those who wait until their later 20’s or 30’s are judged too.

Bottom line is that everyone has a different path; Let’s get over expectations.

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Top 10 Bible Verses About Marriage

top Bible verses about marriage Since wedding season is upon us, I decided to share my top 10 Bible verses about marriage. They aren’t actually all directly referring to marriage, but all of them are great to apply to marriage.

In no particular order:

1. Ephesians 5: 25-33

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.  
 

These verses are commandments from God about having a holy marriage. I think it’s a beautiful section describing how Jesus loved the church, using it as a metaphor for how a husband should love his wife.

2. 1 Corinthians 13:4-10

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  

 

We’ve all heard this one! A favorite for weddings, this Bible verse about marriage describes true love.

3. 1 John 4:7

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.

 

This is one of my favorites. While not only about marriage, it does speak about Godly love.

4. 1 Timothy 3:12-13

12 A deacon must be faithful to his wife and must manage his children and his household well.13 Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus.

 

I like this verse from 1 Timothy because it expresses God’s will for a Christian household.

5. Proverbs 31:10

10 A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.

 

I think this is one of the most popular quotes from Proverbs 31, which is in itself a very popular section of the Bible! Proverbs 31:10 is one of my top 10 Bible verses about marriage because it stresses (and honors) being a noble wife – having good character, which in today’s world is especially important to retain.

6. Deuteronomy 24:5

If a man has recently married, he must not be sent to war or have any other duty laid on him. For one year he is to be free to stay at home and bring happiness to the wife he has married.

 

I love this verse! In a fairy tale kind of way, it’s cute. And a very good idea for newlyweds.

7. Colossians 3:18-19

18 Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.

 

This is an important verse, and often misunderstood. I know for a long time I felt weird about “submitting” myself to my husband. It wasn’t until I heard Joyce Meyer speak about the subject that I began to understand what the Lord means.

It’s kind of a big topic, so I won’t go into it too deeply here, but briefly:

God doesn’t give permission for a husband to take advantage of a submissive wife. No, he directly calls husbands to love their wives and not be harsh.

Wifely submission isn’t a bad thing – it’s just respecting your husband and letting him lead (essentially).

8. Ecclesiastes 4:12

12 Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.  

 

Okay, so this one is not directly speaking on marriage. Nonetheless, it’s beautiful applied to marriage because it represents a couple and God.

9. Ephesians 4: 2-3

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.  

 

This verse from Ephesians is a good reminder for any marriage.    

10. Matthew 19: 4-6

“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

Ephesians 5:31

31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”

Gen 2:24

24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.  

 

I count this as one quote, because these three scriptures all focus on the same thing: that a husband and wife are one flesh. It must be a pretty important fact if it’s in The Bible three times, right?

 

I think if everyone made a “Top 10 Bible Verses About Marriage” post, they would all turn out differently. The Bible has a lot to say about marriage! In any case, I hope that you enjoyed mine!

P.S. I am posting videos regularly on the Devotional Diva YouTube channel now — you should go check them out and subscribe!

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photo credit: 19melissa68 via photopin cc

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Finding Peace During Stress

How do you find peace during stress?

“Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” Mark 5:34
 

I spoke last week quite a lot on who I was – but now it’s time for me to tell you a little bit about who I am now. I didn’t even know how to write this post (although I had it planned) until last Saturday when I went to founding editor Renee Fisher’s birthday party. The picture above is from that evening.

The truth is, I didn’t even really want to tell you who I was before Saturday.

My life is pretty great. If there were some checklist for a great life, mine would pass with flying colors. I don’t say this to sound like I’m bragging or ungrateful. I actually say this to let you know I am aware of how blessed I am. I have a wonderful marriage. I have a nice home to live in. I have a supportive family. I live in beautiful San Diego. I just became the editor of Devotional Diva. My husband mainly supports our family so that I can work on my writing. And that’s really good, because I still have ongoing health issues. But recently, in the midst of all this good stuff happening, the health issues have been worse. On top of being sick, the military healthcare system can be rather difficult.

And I have been so insanely stressed out.

I was lashing out at my husband because I got frustrated so easily. And then I would feel terrible about that, too. My anxiety was getting really bad. Any little thing that happened could throw me into brief hysterics. I kept comparing myself to other people.

“Nobody else gets so upset about a rude cashier.”

“Nobody else goes to the doctor so often.”

“Everybody else gets so much more accomplished than I do.”

I was beginning to hate myself. Friday night, I had a heart-to-heart with my husband about how stressed out I was feeling and how bad I felt about myself. Impulsively, I decided I would get a haircut the next day. After growing my bangs out for 6 months, I had them cut short again. I thought I might look better in bangs again, and I craved some change. Looking the mirror instantly became easier.

Small changes can help, but later on Saturday God brought me an even bigger one.

I was anxious about the party because the only person I was going to know beforehand was Renee, the birthday girl. When the party (at a local winery) got started and Renee introduced me as the woman who was now editing Devotional Diva, everyone gave me a warm and excited welcome. I found that conversing with everyone was pretty easy, and I was enjoying myself and the beautiful view. Towards the end of the evening, Renee offered to anoint me with oil from Israel and pray over me. I have been a Christian pretty much my whole life, but I had never experienced either of those things before. The anointing oil possessed the best scent I’ve ever smelled. As the women prayed over me, I never felt the presence of Christ more. The stress I had been bearing seemed to just melt away.

I felt peaceful.

It was almost as if I could see myself sitting in that beautiful sunset, these ladies’ hands over me in prayer. I could see the power of God at work. I went home feeling so blessed, and have retained that tranquil feeling ever since. I can still picture myself being prayed over in that gorgeous setting. My stress level is much lower now. I was praying in the several days before the party that God could heal me of my recent emotional turmoil. And did He! I don’t think that I could have gone on much longer the way I was.

The Lord is so awesome, isn’t He?

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The fresh new future of Devotional Diva

The fresh new future of Devotional Diva
Editors of Devotional Diva, past and present.

Oh my goodness, is it June already?

This is my first official post on Devotional Diva as the new editor!

In my first “letter from the editor,” I explained why I felt so compelled to say something about the end of Devotional Diva.

I wanted to take this opportunity to explain how I see the new future of Devotional Diva.

I understand that most of you don’t really know me at all.

That’s why I will be using most of this summer to let you get to know me!

I’m mindful that summer here in the US can be pretty busy for many of us, so there will be only one post per week (on Tuesdays). And I’m going to write most of them to introduce myself better! When things slow down closer to fall, the posting frequency will increase.

So, I hope that you will feel comfortable with this change as you learn more about me this summer!

In the meantime, feel free to follow me and my crazy kitties on instagram:

Instagram @maggiewinterton

And don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE to Devotional Diva so that you won’t miss a thing!

There are some other changes that I will be making in my new role as editor, too.

I am opening up Devotional Diva to submissions other than written essays. This means that you can now share your story in other artful ways, such as photographs or a video. For more information, please visit the new WRITE page.

Speaking of videos, there is now a Devotional Diva YouTube channel! I will be posting videos there beginning very soon. I just need to get a little more comfortable with everything myself first 🙂 I’ll let you know when I work out a schedule for the channel, but until then, please subscribe to the Devotional Diva YouTube channel here! You will be the first to know when a new video is up.

Other than that, Devotional Diva will largely stay the same. I want to add to this great community, not take away.

I see Devotional Diva as a Godly force for good on the internet. It will remain the respectful and positive community that it always has been. The goal here is to help spur women forward (Heb. 10:24) by sharing our stories with each other.

I also want to note that I am so blown away by the support you all have given me since Renee announced that I would be the new editor of Devotional Diva. I can’t even tell you how good it feels to hear your well-wishes for me as I begin this journey. I’m so thankful that Renee trusted me to take this over, but it’s so amazing to me that the readers trust me too.

Already, I’ve had some incredible experiences thanks to Devotional Diva. It’s astounding to me the things that God set into motion and I can’t wait to experience His glory even more.

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The above photo was taken during the first Devotional Diva meeting by Renee.
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